These last few weeks, midterm elections were in full swing, with voting taking place last Tuesday, Nov. 7. For many students in college, this midterm election was the first time they have had the opportunity to vote, and it’s so important that they do.
Youth are the future, but there won’t be a future valuable for us if we don’t take the steps needed to mold our country to best fit our needs. As the world changes, politics need to change with it. But that won’t be possible if young adults don’t come out to the polls.
According to data from the Census Bureau, the voting turnout for presidential elections in young adults aged 18 to 24 has averaged about 40 percent. In midterm elections, the number is closer to 20 percent. People aged 65 and older have a very high turnout of 70 percent. In the 2016 presidential election, the average voting age was 57. Therefore, the polls seem to be dominated by the older generations, while younger people are often left unheard.
There’s no single answer as to why the voting rates among young people are so low. But it’s essential – more and more young adults need to head to the polls and have their voices heard.
One of the biggest reasons why more young people don’t vote is because they think that their vote won’t make any difference. But the fact is, one vote can make a difference. Many elections are decided by just a handful of votes. Not voting only ensures that your voice will not be heard. Back in 1839, a former Massachusetts governor won the election by just one vote. That person’s vote mattered a lot. The same can be true for yours. “When it comes to things like, ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ people actually think their vote matters,” former president Barack Obama stated in an interview with CNN. “But a vote in this November’s election actually does matter.”
Many young people, especially college students, will also say that they are too busy to vote. This can be understandable. With classes, extracurriculars and homework, who has time in their schedule to vote on a Tuesday? This is why many states, including Vermont and Massachusetts, have absentee ballots. This allows students and others who can’t make it to the polls to send in their vote ahead of time, so there’s no need to find time in their schedule to vote on a Tuesday.
The youth vote has the potential to be extremely powerful in elections. If more young adults begin voting, experts predict that it’s merely a matter of time before they become the largest, most powerful group of voters who will drive future United States elections. However, not everyone that can vote actually does. This means that fewer younger people will have a say in topics that really matter to them, including federal job programs and college tuition.
Many people think that choosing a president, governor or senator just isn’t something that will affect their life. However, for many college students, adulthood will bring new challenges, such as paying for student loans, buying a house, health insurance, or even starting a family. All these factors can radically change your perspective on politics. While you can’t predict where you’ll be in life in four years, the candidates being elected right now can have a real impact on you in years to come, so why not have a say in who is representing you? “You wouldn’t let your grandparents pick your playlists,” Barack Obama stated. “Why would you let them pick your representatives who are going to determine your future?”
Lindsay Gibbons can be contacted at